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Thursday, June 30, 2011 06:49 pm

Letters to the Editor 06/30/11

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Bank of Springfield is one of several businesses commended for making “positive aesthetic contributions to Springfield.”

GREENSPACE
With reference to the “Publisher’s note” in last week’s IT concerning her observation of the lack of greenspace in the new Scheel’s parking lot, a familiar chord was struck. She had noticed efforts in malls in Florida to diminish the visual impact of seas of asphalt parking lots. In our travels throughout the country, my husband and I notice enviably what other cities do to buffer parking lots and so wish this idea would catch on here.

It has been heartening in recent years to see how the efforts of some of the local businesses, such as Hanson Professional Services, Bank of Springfield, the Inn at 835, and, yes, our family property (Butler Funeral Home on S. Sixth) to mention a few, have made positive aesthetic contributions to Springfield.

My father once remarked that Springfieldians have a “Lum & Abner” mentality – they don’t have very high expectations of themselves and are content with mediocrity. We need to expect a lot more of developers here. Perhaps with the announcement of the upgrade at White Oaks Mall, we might see, besides interior renovation, some beautification and greening of the parking areas.

Janice Butler
Springfield


CHARGE FOR BAGS
I agree that passing an ordinance banning the use of plastic grocery bags is unlikely [see “New push for reusable bags,” by Rachel Wells, June 23]. However there is another means for controlling excessive use of plastic bags: charging for them. In fact one grocery store in town, Aldi, does not give away grocery bags, rather has them for sale for those who want to use them. It is quite evident that their system works, in that many shoppers bring their own bags, to avoid having to buy bags.

I’m guessing that the percentage of shoppers using plastic bags at Aldi is many times lower than in other stores where the bags are free. Aldi stores are always full of customers, so it would appear that their system is a win win one; that is, fewer plastic bags headed for the landfills plus lower prices, no doubt at least in part due to these bags not being given away.

Dick McLane
Springfield


BOLIVIA BRIDGE
It was surprising to read Jim Krohe’s column [see “The bridges of Sangamon County,” April 21] criticizing Landmarks Illinois for naming the Bolivia Bridge as one of the 10 Most Threatened historic sites in Illinois. The 110-year-old bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as one of the last remaining bridges of its type in the state and the only early example still carrying vehicular traffic.

Krohe’s negative view of that selection by Landmarks Illinois – and of the value of preserving the bridge – is puzzling, since he correctly states that the choice was based in part on the fact that the type of bridge represented is very rare and that “local rarity confers a value.” Indeed, listing on the National Register, which helped qualify the bridge for consideration as one of the state’s most significant threatened sites, often is based on its local significance. He then suggests that a rare old bridge – apparently even one as attractive and distinctive as this one – is “important to engineers, not…[necessarily] interesting to the general public,” so why preserve it? By that token, why save a rare and distinctive example of a historic building type, since by extension of Krohe’s logic, it’s important only to architects?

While pointing out that a bridge this size (the Parker truss main span is 180 feet long) can’t readily be a museum piece, he writes that using it for pedestrians and cyclists would require private funding. This is not necessarily so. Efforts continue to secure federal and local government financial support to move the bridge and refurbish it for one of the many hike/bike trails now being planned nearby. In that role, far from the “useless relic” described by Krohe, the picturesque and historic Bolivia Bridge may continue to serve Illinoisans for many decades to come.

Jerry Jacobson
Springfield

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